NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Bank of America 500
Topics: Bank of America 500
October 12, 2013
CONCORD, NORTH CAROLINA
KERRY THARP: Kasey, thanks for putting on a great performance tonight, and we'll see you at Talladega.
Next up is our third‑place finisher in tonight's 54th annual Bank of America 500, and he retains his points lead in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, Matt Kenseth, four‑point lead over Jimmie Johnson. He drives the No.20 Dollar General Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing. Certainly another solid, consistent performance for you. You were up front most of the evening. Now we're halfway through the Chase, you go to Talladega as the points leader. Your thoughts about tonight and maybe also about the fact that you're the points leader halfway through?
MATT KENSETH: Yeah, I mean, you want to be the points leader after the second half is the most important. But yeah, certainly glad we're still leading. Tonight was a big positive for us. It was a little bit of a struggle this weekend more than we anticipated. I didn't get a good lap qualifying, and that was really the start of us being behind tonight.
About our second or third adjustment, Jason and our group really hit it and really found something that I liked, and our car started driving really good. I could pass really good, start working our way up through the field. It was such long runs and long greens that they got really far ahead of us. Overall I was really proud of my whole Dollar General team. They had a great pit stop there at the end, did a great job with adjustments.
The way the night went, it was crazy. We fired off that last restart and the two cars in front of me had two tires, and I couldn't believe that they figured out how to give me a chance to win again, and I am kind of disappointed that I didn't figure out how to win it with the position he put me in and the good restart I had coming out of Turn 2 in second. I thought for sure I'd have a shot to go around Kasey, and just couldn't get it done.
Q. What's your main takeaway from the weekend? Are you happy with where you finished and holding onto the points lead and that Jimmie kind of‑‑ that team gave it away, or are you disappointed you didn't come in here more competitive at the start?
MATT KENSETH: I'm not disappointed at all right now. It's hard to answer this. This is a tough deal. It's hard to run up front every week. It's hard to win races. It's hard to do all that. And I felt like tonight the 48 probably had us beat. I'm not sure about the 5 overall because I didn't race with him that much and hear lap times and we were coming from the back. But I felt like we had in between a 2nd and a 4th or 5th place car at worst. We finished there or a little better so I'd call that a successful night. Like I said, they put me in a chance to win there at the end and being greedy of course you want to win and you go out and do everything you can do and I couldn't get it done but yet for where we started and how we were the first two runs of the race, I thought my whole team did an incredible job. I was happy where we ran, happy where we finished.
I feel like you've got to be able to run in the top 5 every week to have a shot at this deal. I know you're not going to finish there every week, but I think you have to be good enough to finish there every week and not make mistakes and hopefully get good finishes.
Q. After the race Jason Ratcliff said something along the lines that he learned something on that last run. Did you guys have time to discuss it yet?
MATT KENSETH: Yeah.
MATT KENSETH: Yeah, I'm going to tell you what it is. That's why I started laughing before it got out of your mouth. Yeah, we talked for about five or 10 minutes on pit road, a couple things about the car and a couple things we did for adjustments for what we'll maybe do next time, just those kinds of things. They did an incredible job tonight. I'm sure I had him frustrated by run 2, because I was getting cranky that I couldn't get my car to turn, and man, they did some really nice adjustments to really wake it up. That's hard to do on pit road these days, and they did a good job of that.
Q. And your pit crew has been pretty spot on most of the season. They stumbled a little bit tonight. You think it's just a night race or is everybody just going to have an off night, or for you to come back the way you did was pretty stellar.
MATT KENSETH: I'd have to look into that a little bit more because I didn't really think they had an off night that I know of. There was a couple stops that were a little slow and we lost a couple spots, but I know we were pulling spring rubbers on at least two of those stops, and that's always going to slow it down. I think one time we put a rubber in and only lost two spots which I thought was pretty incredible. And then at the end there, they nailed it there at the end. I was the second car out on four tires, but the first car out on four tires was three spots ahead of me coming down pit road, and they beat the 18 off pit road that last stop and got me in a position to have a shot at it.
They've been really on it. They've been doing a great job.
Q. Complexion of the race changed greatly with that debris caution with 26 to go. Jimmie said it seemed to indicate he didn't really see it. Did you see the debris that brought out that yellow?
MATT KENSETH: I didn't really look for it, so I don't know. You know, for us we were going to‑‑ where we ended up finishing was where we were going to finish on green today. Obviously with Jimmie dominating, and he didn't get the win, you know he's going to have‑‑ I'm sure‑‑ I don't know the right word to say here, bother him more, but you know he's going to think about it more. I honestly didn't look and I didn't even think about it, because the caution came out, I more tried to get caught up and got on the radio to Jason immediately and started talking about what my car was doing and changes and what we wanted to try to lead, how my car was on the lead lap, those kinds of things, just to get ready for our pit stop.
Q. If it doesn't come out (inaudible)?
MATT KENSETH: Honestly I couldn't see the 48 and I couldn't see second place. I could see third place and I was running 18 down by three tenths a lap, and I have no idea how far down first and second‑‑ I don't think I was going to catch first, but I don't know how close him and Kasey were. If they were close to battling or what. I couldn't see that far. I don't think I was going to catch everybody and beat them, but I thought we were going to run third.
Q. A lot is made of Jimmie and their team and the golden horseshoe that they seem to have. I'm curious if you feel fortunate that you were able to beat them on a day when they were so dominant?
MATT KENSETH: Yeah, I'd feel more fortunate if we would have won, for sure. But yeah, I mean, that's a hard one to answer. I guess if you're talking about points, you always want to finish ahead of the guys that are close to you and that you're racing. For sure you want to finish ahead of them. But for me, like I said, I think the finish was the same with or without the caution for me, but obviously it looked like he was leading all laps and out front there at the end when the caution came out.
That's part of the sport. You just don't know when the caution is going to come out, and these restarts are crazy. You've got to be good on long runs and restarts and all that. Some nights are easier to restart than others. Last weekend, for instance, we could do okay under green but got all those restarts. Man, I would lose four or five spots every restart we were so loose. Every weekend is a little different. You're never sure what's going to happen.
Q. It was a positive night for you, good night. Does all that go completely out the window when you go to Talladega because it's so random?
MATT KENSETH: No. I mean, not really. Certainly it's a lot different. I mean, there's really nothing I can do to make the car go faster. When you qualify and all that, and if you don't have the speed in a race there's not a lot you can do. But man, our car was really fast the first Talladega race. We just led all day and disappointing finish, that last green‑white‑checkered I didn't do the right things and we kind of got freight trained and didn't finish as good. But I think it all depends how you want to look at it. You can sit and be nervous and think about crashing and think about losing points or you can look at it as an opportunity and look forward to going there. Anything can happen, but go there and try to work hard and try to keep your car positioned up front somewhere and lead some laps and go try to win the thing. That's kind of the attitude I go with. You never know what's going to happen. You might be disappointed when the day is over, but to be nervous about it and disappointed about it and all that before you even go is probably a waste of time. So I'm just going to look at it as an opportunity to go there and hopefully we can be up front like we were in April and hopefully we can figure out how to do the right things at the end.
KERRY THARP: Matt, we'll see you at Talladega.
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